In recent days, there were complaints in Africa against possible discrimination some Africans could have suffered from in Guangdong province in the context of the fight against Covid19. Some media falsely accused China of racism and predicted the end of good relations between China and Africa.
The reality is of course quite different. China, through its rapid prosperity, has become a model for developing countries, especially in Africa. The country attracts African traders and students; for the past few years, China has been the top destination for foreign students from English-speaking Africa. China is also the main trading partner of the African continent.
This strong partnership that exists between China and the African continent can only deepen. During the current Covid19 health crisis, China has shown the world that it behaves like a responsible great power, and provides expertise and medical aid to the entire international community. On the African continent, China has sent masks and tests to many countries. Jack Ma, the founder of Ali Baba, donated more than 100,000 masks to Africa. Beijing also stated that China would continue to provide health assistance to all African nations, should the pandemic progress on the continent.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently spoke to the President of the African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat on the phone about the development of Sino-African relations and the African community in China ; the two statemen pledged to further cooperation between China and Africa. Mr. Wang Yi said that this friendship was rock solid.
A better understanding
China and Africa need to continue to dialogue and thus ensure greater entente between Africans and Chinese, in order to avoid misunderstandings. Many foreigners, including Africans, are unaware of China’s immense efforts to contain the development of Covid19 and alert the world to the virus’ dangers. The entire Chinese population responded eagerly to the authorities’ instructions and respected the confinement. Foreigners in China, including Africans, must follow the measures put in place by authorities so that there is no second wave. On the other hand, there may have been some cases of discrimination against certain Africans, as evidenced by the local MacDonald’s restaurant’s sign banning African customers; but these initiatives are exceptional and individual. These rare incidents have been dramatized and exaggerated on social networks due to the panic caused by covid19. The Chinese government has in no way encouraged these measures, on the contrary, Beijing reminded its population to continue to fight against discrimination. It is unfair to accuse China, when only the behavior of a handful of individuals is to blame. As Chen Xiaodong, assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, recalled:
“All foreigners are treated equally. We have no tolerance for discrimination. The Chinese people always see in the African people partners and brothers. “
The strengthening of exchanges between China and Africa, and in particular cultural exchanges, will create conditions for better mutual understanding and put an end to the rare discrimination suffered by Chinese and Africans in the two regions. China and African States commit to provide the two communities with the best conditions for a sustainable partnership, especially through the “Belt and Road Initiative”. China and African countries cultivate strong relations that no crisis can fade away.
Instead of these sterile controversies, let us strengthen the mechanisms of dialogue and concertation between our two peoples in order to ensure coexistence and trade between China and Africa. We must continue to communicate, to inspire each other, to achieve common progress.
Today, in front of the covid19 challenge, we, Africans and Chinese must show our solidarity and work together to overcome the pandemic. We have so much to discover and gain from good relations between China and Africa.
Dr. Sebastien Goulard, coordinator of OBOReurope in association with Mr. Aliou Sissoko, director of “Club des Amis de la Chine“.